Have you ever experienced a breakthrough in your life? Or are you praying for one right now?
I was running this morning for the first time in a long time, and was reminded of a big breakthrough that got me fired up. Truths discovered in running often remind me of spiritual truths, and I think that’s why there are many references to running in the Bible.
Several years ago, I was a “three miler runner.” I had about five different three-mile routes from our house, and ran in a few 5ks. As a 28-year-old who had passed her athletic “prime,” I did not think I was capable of running more than three miles any more. My husband challenged me on this. He told me I was capable of so much more if I could just break through the “three mile wall” in my mind. He encouraged me this was a mental wall, not a present reality. It’s a wall he had broken through and he kindly offered to help me.
Rather than running one of my normal routes and adding to it, he drove me somewhere far away from our neighborhood. He didn’t want me thinking through the route. He didn’t want me to think about anything but finishing. When we got there, he did something really wise. He told me I had to leave my watch in the car. I wanted to know how fast we were going, but he told me that wasn’t necessary. He said that pace doesn’t matter when you’re going a new distance. I thought that was a neat reminder that in order to experience breakthrough with God, we have to throw off our performance measures. Not seeing my mile time was so freeing. I didn’t have to run fast – I just had to run.
Will and I ran that afternoon, side by side, step by step for what seemed like an eternity. I set the pace and he just was there to keep me from stopping. It’s as if there was an imaginary thread between us and he was pulling me along one step and one breath at a time for four long miles.
When the parking lot of our finish line was in close distance, I was so happy to see it that I sprinted the rest of the way toward it. I ran my heart out, freedom of breakthrough in every step. Will let me go ahead as he cheered me on. I did it! I broke through the three mile wall. Three weeks later, I ran my first 10k. And a month after that I finished my first half marathon. Once I realized that wall was indeed a lie, I was ready to embrace the once impossible with everything I had.
Remembering this today made me reflect on spiritual breakthroughs and how they’ve looked a lot like that day with Will. Breaking through the walls built by fears, hurts, and lies has looked like:
Running together – When we let a trusted person into the hurting and often secret places of our lives, breakthrough happens. Sometimes they carry us through, sometimes they just run beside us. Sharing my dark places and weakness with others is probably the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. But bringing others into my journey has led to true healing, freedom and amazing breakthrough. It’s in those moments I’ve seen God’s light overcome darkness.
Taking off the watch – As someone who loves to perform well, this is challenging for me. But breakthroughs are never about what I can do well! They are only what He can do through me when I take my eyes off my abilities and put them on His promises. Also, breakthroughs often don’t happen as fast as we’d like them to. They are not on our time; they are on His time. Taking off the watch helps us release that and not give up too soon.
Explosive Growth – Each time I have discovered that wall was not a present reality in light of God’s word and who I am in Christ, there has been explosive growth beyond what I could have asked or imagine. Breakthroughs don’t just get us out; they send us soaring, walls in the dust. His divine power demolishes strongholds and sets us free indeed!
Seeing and being someone new – Today I am starting over in running after having a baby. I can only go 1.2 miles and boy, does it hurt. However, I don’t see myself as someone who can only run 1.2 miles. I see myself as a half marathon (potentially more) runner who is a little out of shape. This is a huge difference! Once we see who we are in Christ, we can operate out of the strength and truth of our new identity.
Our God is a God who breaks through for us. He leads us to break through our fears, unbelief and the places where we feel stuck and defeated. He breaks through the walls built by hurt and the lies telling us change is not possible for us. He overcomes, He rescues and He delivers.
“The LORD did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). 2 Sam 5:20
He sees the walls in our hearts and our minds, and wants us to burst through to freedom like a raging flood! The same God who burst through for David is for us and can burst through for you and me today. He is no different and our battles are no less important. Isn’t that awesome!?
As the New Year begins, I have been journaling the places I pray God can break through in 2016. There are specific places I am stuck and need freedom. I am so amazed at all He has done, and it gives me great hope to know He is not nearly finished with me! A friend gave me the advice to journal my prayers years ago, and I am so thankful. Writing them out is an amazing way to later look back and see how He is faithful to answer. Our hearts are always full of prayers, and journals are a great reminder that He hears them.
What is the place that at the end of 2016 you would like to name Baal-perazim? The place in your mind, heart, life? The place you want to see Him burst through that doesn’t look possible right now? The relationship that’s still broken, the fear that paralyzes, the sin that still lingers, the pattern that continues, the dream that has lost its spark of hope, the unbelief that only the Holy Spirit can break through. What are the New Year’s hopes that can only be accomplished with the help a powerful God? I dare you to write them down!
Each run begins with one new step. Each breakthrough begins with one new prayer. Each year begins with one new day. It’s time for walls to fall. Let’s run our hearts out!
“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way…” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG